It is a problem not many us have to consider: how to ensure your multimillion dollar superyacht remains a coronavirus-free zone despite taking on board crew from around the world.
But for the billionaire owners of floating luxury homes there is now a solution – a very expensive one, naturally. An Australian naval architecture firm is launching a new double-hulled support vessel, in which new crew and guests can isolate while they await coronavirus test results from onboard medical staff.
The catamaran, called ShadowCAT Haven and designed by Sydney-based firm Incat Crowther, is being promoted as offering rich owners a “protective layer between the shore and the vessel”, allowing them to “maintain their bubble of protection” from the real world.
Dan Mace, technical manager at Incat Crowther, said the design of the catamaran allowed crew and goods to be “sanitised” before passing to the “clean side”.
“With its certified helipad and generous guest lounge, the Haven allows guests transiting to the yacht to undergo testing and a brief but luxurious isolation period prior to transfer by tender to the mother vessel,” Mace said.
“The yacht industry, like most industries, has been hit hard by coronavirus, and like others it is looking to see how it can get back to a new normal,” he added. “Both owners and charterers want to get back aboard, but how to do this safely, given the nature of a vessel with crew and mobility.
“This is where Haven is necessary as it allows owners and charterers to enjoy the yacht and maintain their bubble of protection, with Haven being that protective layer between the shore and the vessel – and the gateway through which all guests and crew pass.”
As well as featuring an isolation centre and medical lab, the vessel also has space for jet skis, diving equipment and even a submarine and hydroponic gardens.
Mace said the cost of the Haven support yacht would vary depending on the owners’ specifications, but it would run into tens of millions.
Many of the world’s richest people have attempted to avoid the pandemic and associated global lockdowns by decamping to their superyachts for large parts of the past year.
David Geffen, the billionaire co-founder of Geffen Records and DreamWorks Pictures, sparked outrage last year when he posted photos of himself and friends “avoiding the virus” on his $590m superyacht Rising Sun.
Geffen, who has an estimated $8bn fortune, posted drone footage of his yacht on Instagram with the caption: “Isolated in the Grenadines avoiding the virus. I’m hoping everybody is staying safe.”
After the outcry Geffen deleted the posts. It was not possible to find out who he was sailing with at the time, but Geffen has regularly hosted celebrities, business executives and politicians on his yacht.
In 2019 he invited Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, former Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein, venture capitalist Joshua Kushner and his supermodel wife, Karlie Kloss, and oil heir Mikey Hess.
On other cruises Geffen hosted Oprah Winfrey, Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry, business billionaire Henry Kravis, Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Hanks and Bradley Cooper.
BWA Yachting, a superyacht servicing company, has begun offering coronavirus tests to superyacht crews, to allay owners’ fears that workers may bring the virus on board with them. The company said it had so far tested the crews of more than 30 yachts.